Quadrokopter aus dem Forschungsprojekt FLAIR (Foto Pfitzner).

Development of an airborne test system to assess installed photovoltaics with infrared thermography

Project description

In 2013, the world’s solar plant capacity exceeded 100 GW (gigawatts). Of this, Europe accounted for 69 GW, with 32 GW in Germany alone. Hence, one third of the world’s installed capacity is generated in Germany.

This increasing number of plants also means an increasing number of defective solar modules. Based on experience, the proportion of defective modules is estimated at roughly 5%. Taking annual Central European solar radiation of approx. 925 kWh and a statutory remuneration rate as set under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act of 0.2 €/kWh, this corresponds to damage totalling €345,000,000 per year.

The aim of this project is to identify and locate defective solar modules fully automatically using infrared thermography. An octocopter carrying the sensors flies semi-autonomously over solar parks and records infrared data, which is then evaluated fully automatically on the ground. FLAIR

Potential of IR thermography

With thermography, it is possible to test a solar plant under load in a contactless and non-destructive way. The plant does not have to be disconnected from the grid and can therefore be checked without financial loss.

Our project contribution

  • Development of a sensor platform for test purposes.
  • Location and clear identification of solar modules.
  • Development of route planning for the sensor platform.
  • Optimization of route planning for best possible error detection and flight efficiency.

Project contributors

  • Markus Kühn, M.Sc., (semi-autonomous navigation)
  • Christian Merkl, M.Sc., (module detection)
  • Michael Schmidpeter, M.Sc., (module detection)

Project partners

The FLAIR project is being conducted together with project partners from the “Innovative Photovoltaik für zukünftige Märkte” network (Innovative photovoltaics for future markets, PV-ZUM):